"The fact is, who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?" Rick Perry asked Thursday in a speech before the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention in Dallas. "In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances."
"She was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate," Perry continued. "It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."
There's no better summary of the Texas Taliban's War on Women than this, from the head mullah himself. Except for this one.
It was classic mansplaining -- as Elyse Fradkin pithily summarized it on Twitter, "when a man explains to a woman how she should view the meaning of her own life experience."
The term derives from Rebecca Solnit's article, "Men Explain Things to Me," which opens with a wealthy older man hosting an event in Aspen at which he lectures her on "a very important Muybridge book that came out this year" after she brings up the photographer in casual conversation. He goes on and on at great length until she finally realizes he is playing the expert and seeking to educate her about the book she herself wrote.
The idea of mansplaining has grown to be applied to any situation in which men believe they are the experts and drone on and on about something on which the women being lectured are the actual experts. It also refers to the social syndrome in which women cast themselves as listeners who doubt their own expertise in the face of such masculine certainty.
Update: Or, as Jamison Foser Tweeted it...
Rick Perry thinks Rick Perry learned more from Wendy Davis being a single mother than Wendy Davis did. Seems unlikely.
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) June 27, 2013
That last sentence in the prior excerpt helps us better understand this.
Those are the Republican women of the Texas House of Representatives standing behind Jodie "Cleaned Out" Laubenberg, from the debate this past week regarding the passage of the abortion restrictions legislation. (That's her in the middle at the mic, in the pink jacket. Try not to stare at the toad in the black dress and Cinderella slippers; the one with her toes at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. Try also not to notice that some of these professional women don't wear nylons to work -- and not just because they are wearing pants, leggings, or sandals borrowed from their teen-age daughters.)
Repeated for emphasis: "women who cast themselves as listeners, doubting their own expertise in the face of such masculine certainty". Then there are the women who truly don't have any expertise, like the ones in the photo.
Because so many Republican men think that all women are like Republican women, it does not occur to them that there can be women like Wendy Davis. Or Leticia Van de Putte, whose question set off the roaring in the Texas Senate gallery that ultimately killed the bill.
We all know (that would be Republicans and Democrats, as well as Greens and Libertarians and independents) that Republican women and men like those mentioned previously are actually the minority of Texans. Our problems in Texas, however, stem from the fact that they are the majority of those who vote. That's why people like Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and Sen. Bob Deuell -- and Ted Cruz and Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert -- and women like those pictured above are our elected officials.
We also know that these same people are desperate to keep it that way. The Supreme Court cases, the gerrymandered districts, the voter ID legislation now back on ramming speed... all of it is designed to keep people like this right where they are. In charge.
And there's only one thing that will change it: the people who haven't been voting are going to have to start. And those of us who are interested in not having representation like this are going to have to help the non-voters get registered, get their IDs, and get to the polls during early voting periods and on election day. And, of course, help inform them and keep them up to date on things, including the issues.
Texas has nearly the very lowest percentage of its citizens participating in the electoral process in the entire nation. It may be that Texans are represented by morons because so many of them are in fact morons themselves, but at least for another couple of cycles I'm going to hope that this reality can be changed with more engagement with them by the thinking class.
If you can imagine, as agents of change in state government, the swearing-in of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in January of 2015, hopefully that is motivation enough to get to work now to make sure that scenario doesn't come to pass. Here's this weekend's opportunity in the Houston area. There are many more across the state, and there will be many more opportunities in the future, but the time to take action is now.
Women and the men who respect them can't wait any longer, but that's also true of poor people and people of color. It's gone on for too long like this as it is.
We need to change it, and this is how that will happen.